People came out in force Thursday night in White Haven, concerned about a study on the Francis E Walter Dam. Some are worried it could mean New York City’s water interests are put above those along the Lehigh River.
So often it happens that surrounding states need Penn resources and through political means, they/we find a way to give them up. Our roads are used to transport goods through our state to support these same states, yet they are not pristine and well maintained. Penn represents a pivotal comportment of many of these states people and their lives yet they do not appreciate or respect the resources they take from Penn. citizens.
Representatives that need to be held accountable for deals done in our state, reach out and let them know how you feel about this issue.:
The Delaware River Basin runs 330 miles, through four states. The Lehigh River is one of the tributaries.
Concerns have been coming up about climate change, the salt levels in the lower parts of the basin, and more. New York City is helping fund this study, but it’s all about the well-being of everyone along the waterway.
“How many of you consider yourselves interconnected enough that the outcome of this, from a downstream recreation matters to you, would you slowly and respectfully stand,” asked Jerry McAward of Jim Thorpe River Adventures, as almost the entire room stood.
A room packed with hundreds of people worried about a study into possible changes at the Francis E Walter Dam, which main functions are flood protection and supporting recreation.
“Most people think of the river being natural, wild, scenic and all that’s very true. It’s also very engineered and very managed,” said Steve Tambini, the executive director of the Delaware River Basin Commission.
A study is reevaluating if it can be used for other purposes.
“Water supply, improved fisheries, and just at the early stages of looking at other opportunities,” added Tambini.
New York City is one of the non-federal partners funding the study.
“New York City is interested in the ways we can manage reservoirs under drought conditions, so they’ve asked us to take a look at that,” explained Steve Rochette, with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
During those times, salt water can push in from the ocean, which could lead to possible contamination in the lower parts of the water basin, so reservoirs, like those in NYC, need to push out more water to keep salt levels down.
“The water that comes out of F.E. Walter gets there a lot quicker than New York City,” explained Paul Rush, the deputy commissioner of the Bureau Of Water Supply at the NYC Department of Environmental Protection. He explained that water from NYC would take six to seven days to get where it needed to go.
Study partners say this is one of many things they’ll be looking at, while making sure the places that rely on the Lehigh River aren’t negatively impacted.
“While New York State and New Jersey have not been great neighbors when it comes to energy production and economic growth in Pennsylvania, they certainly seem to have their interest in our water supply and I think we need to hold their feet to the fire,” said state representative Doyle Heffley of District 122.
Many are still skeptical, but willing to let this play out.
“We want to make sure that there’s no net loss to the ecology of the Lehigh River basin, we want to make sure there’s no net loss to the quality of the fishers, and we want to make sure there’s no net loss to the economic benefits,” said Steven Chuckra, the president of the Lehigh River Stocking Association.
Whether raising the dam, changing the flow, or even doing nothing, at this point it’s all still up in the air.
“We are looking for win-win solutions in the way the dam is managed,” said Rochette.
The Army Corps of Engineers expects the study to go for multiple years, with a preliminary completion timeline set for September 2022.
Anyone with any more public comment is asked to get that in by January 29th.